Association between lifetime smoking and cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma: A 2-sample Mendelian randomization study

Truelian Lee, Christopher D. George, Chen Jiang, Maryam M. Asgari, Tamar Nijsten, Luba M. Pardo, Hélène Choquet*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC) is one of the most common malignancies worldwide. While several environmental risk factors for cSCC are well established, there is conflicting evidence on cigarette smoking (and its potential causal effect) and cSCC risk. Furthermore, it is unclear if these potential associations represent causal, modifiable risk factors for cSCC development. This study aims to assess the nature of the associations between cigarette smoking traits (smoking initiation, amount smoked, and lifetime smoking exposure) and cSCC risk using two-sample Mendelian randomization analyses. 


Genetic instruments, based on common genetic variants associated with cigarette smoking traits (P < 5 × 10−8), were derived from published genome-wide association studies (GWASs). For cSCC, we used GWAS summary statistics from the Kaiser Permanente GERA cohort (7701 cSCC cases and 60,167 controls; all non-Hispanic Whites). 


We found modest evidence that genetically determined lifetime smoking was associated with cSCC (inverse-variance weighted method: OR[95% CI] = 1.47[1.09-1.98]; P =.012), suggesting it may be a causal risk factor for cSCC. We did not detect any evidence of association between genetically determined smoking initiation or amount smoked and cSCC risk. 


Study findings highlight the importance of smoking prevention and may support risk-stratified cSCC screening strategies based on carcinogen exposure and other genetic and clinical information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-76
Number of pages8
JournalJAAD International
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2024

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© 2023 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc.


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